Texas’ two biggest strengths coming into the College World Series were pitching and defense. They had carried a rather anemic offense throughout the year. If you had told me before the series started that Texas would hit fourteen homeruns, I would have told you that we would win it. I never would have guessed that our pitching and defense would let us down.
Texas had confidence in six pitchers going into the CWS. That’s usually enough to get you through at least the winner’s bracket. Unfortunately, two of them couldn’t get anybody out once they got there. So that left Texas with four reliable pitchers for six games.
Texas was in the position of either getting a dominant performance from their starters or outslugging the opponent. Difficult to manage a staff when you don’t have middle relief or a closer on which you can rely. Even more difficult when your defense commits twelve errors in six games. To Texas’ credit they only fell one game short.
Austin Wood has never been the same after his performance against Boston College in the regional. I know, correlation isn’t causation, but his stat line since isn’t pretty: 11 IP 16 hits 10 runs 3 walks 8 ks. And two hit batters.
You don’t know how a freshman is going to respond in the biggest games of their life. Huston Street and Taylor Jungmann looked like major leaguers. Austin Dicharry looked like a freshman. He had major control issues and couldn’t throw strikes. In 2 1/3 innings he gave up three hits and walked eight.
After Texas tied the game at 4-4 last night, Cole Green summed up the team’s faith in the bullpen. "We were talking in the dugout and we kind of knew it would be over if they responded in the next inning," Green said. That’s rough. And you could tell by the players’ body language that they knew it was over once LSU did respond.
You can fault Augie Garrido for some bad moves regarding the staff, but it’s not easy to make good moves when you don’t have anybody in the pen that can get the other team out.
Texas exceeded expectations, and they return a great nucleus of players who now have CWS experience. Experience counts a lot. Don’t forget that this LSU team went 1-2 at last year’s CWS.
So I’m calling my shot now. Texas wins it all next year.
For an exhaustive take, check out GhostofBigRoy @ BON.